CRANBERRY TWP, PA – A 3-0 first period deficit was a hole too big for the Youngstown Phantoms (0-1-0-0, 0 points) to dig themselves out of as they dropped their season opener to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 6-2 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex Thursday afternoon.
“I thought there was a lot of rust to be fair,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “We haven’t played (an opponent) at USHL caliber yet and it showed today…There were bits and pieces of that game that I liked but at the end of the day we have to play with much more pace.”
Cedar Rapids scored the opening goal, converting a power play attempt on their first shot of the game. Donte Lawson fired a one-timer past the right shoulder of Dominic Basse (36 saves) and just under the cross bar to give the RoughRiders a 1-0 lead. Ben Meehan tapped in a backdoor feed for another powerplay goal for Cedar Rapids at 7:25 and Robby Newton redirected a point shot behind Basse at 9:39 to stake the RoughRiders to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first.
Youngstown cut into the deficit before the second period was a minute old. Yusaku Ando put home the rebound of Jacob Felker’s shot 30 seconds into the frame to cut the Cedar Rapids lead to 3-1. “I thought (Ando) looked great, and he has since he got here,” said Patterson. “He’s got a motor that doesn’t stop so I’m not surprised to see him have success.”
Cedar Rapids scored the next three goals to stretch their lead out to 6-1. Newton scored back-to-back goals at 10:37 of the second and 1:50 of the third to complete the hat trick and Jack O’Leary fired a shot from the right circle that redirected off a Phantoms defenseman and into the net for the final RoughRiders tally of the game, coming at 5:09 of the third. Trevor Kuntar put home a rebound off Reilly Funk’s drive to the net at 7:01 to wrap up the scoring. Coach Patterson had praise for Funk after the game. “You don’t think of a guy like (Reilly) having a tremendous amount of speed, but he blows by a guy, has a great opportunity, and he was in on (Kuntar’s) goal. I really liked his play today.”
The Phantoms return to the ice tomorrow afternoon in their final game at the 2019 USHL Fall Classic when they’ll take on the defending Anderson Cup champion Tri-City Storm. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:00pm Eastern and the game will be broadcast on Western Reserve Radio and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 29
Saves – 36
Power Play – 0/4
Penalty Kill – 1/3
Goals – Ando, Kuntar
Assists – Ando, Felker, Funk (2)